Understanding corporate culture in Canada

Windmill asked Calgary-based career coach Eno Eka for examples of Canadian corporate culture that newcomers need to recognize to achieve career success.

Career Success and Planning,Settlement and Life in Canada

June 30, 2022

Estimated reading time: 2.5 minutes

In summary:

  • Understanding the unique aspects of Canadian business can be critical to a newcomer’s professional success.
  • Some of the common expectations in corporate environments include eye contact, small talk and efficient presentations.
  • A newcomer career coach says immigrants and refugees need to be prepared for constructive feedback in the workplace

To reach your career goals as a newcomer to Canada, you need to understand the intricacies of Canadian corporate culture.

Some aspects are simple to understand. Arrive on time for meetings, respect your colleague’s personal space or be prepared to support a team member and work collaboratively. Other expectations – engaging in small talk before a meeting, maintaining eye contact when speaking to a colleague and keeping presentations short and to the point may take some getting used to. However, learning and adapting to these attributes of Canadian business can be critical to your career development and, ultimately, career success.

Looking for more tools, tips and resources to succeed in your career as a newcomer to Canada? Visit Windmill’s Career Planning and Success Centre, today, to find information to help you increase your income and reach your full professional potential. Click here to enter the hub.

Windmill Microlending connected with award-winning Calgary-based career coach Eno Eka, founder of Eny Consulting and the Business Analysis School. Eka works with immigrant clients and students helping them understand the business landscape in Canada. We asked Eka to list her top three examples of Canadian corporate culture that immigrants and refugees need to recognize in order to achieve career success.

Eno Eka

Eno Eka is originally from Nigeria and has won numerous awards and honours for her coaching and consulting work, including RBC Women of Influence, Alberta Top 30 under 30 and Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada.

Example #1: The importance of transparency

Canadian organizations and leaders value transparency. Many organizations strive to be transparent about their decisions and the reasons behind them. In turn, they expect transparency from their employees. Bring issues, mistakes, inefficiencies or irregularities to your manager’s attention related to organizational processes and your own work. Relatedly, don’t hesitate to highlight the impact and organizational benefits you bring through your work to management. 

Example #2: Understand how you may receive constructive feedback

In Canada, your performance in the workplace matters and is evaluated by your direct manager. You may receive constructive feedback about your strengths and weaknesses, often delivered using the “sandwich method”. This involves receiving a compliment about your positive performance, followed by an area of improvement, followed by another positive aspect of your work quality.  Managers use this approach to ensure a positive interaction during challenging discussions with employees while challenging them to consider both the positive and negative aspects of a worker’s contributions.

Example #3: Be vocal and demonstrate your soft skills

Technical knowledge will always have value in Canada’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields but across these sectors and others, your ability to communicate could make a difference in your career advancement. In Canadian workplaces, individuals who share ideas, communicate, collaborate and lead teams in reaching their objectives are the ones who succeed professionally. In meetings, this may mean bringing forward new ideas or different perspectives. In team settings, this may mean encouraging colleagues or reminding them about the objectives of the project or initiative you’re working on. When newcomers showcase their soft skills, they show their colleagues they want to contribute to the organization and team’s success and they mean business.

Listen to a bonus example from Eno Eka: Understanding the importance of networking and soft skills in Canadian corporate culture

Windmill Microlending · Eno Eka on understanding the importance of networking and soft skills in Canadian corporate culture


To find out more about the Business Analysis School, click here.

You can find more helpful resources about Canadian business culture in the links below.

Workplace culture in Canada

Business practices in Canada

What are Canadian social norms?

Canada’s best employers (Forbes)

Canada’s best diversity employers

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